Fanjing Mountain represents the summit of the Wuling Mountain Range of south-central China proper, in the area where Guizhou and Henan Provinces converge with the border of Chongqing Municipality, one of China's three municipalities (The two other municipalities are Beijing and Shanghai). Wuling Mountain Range lies within the Tongren Prefecture in the northeast of Guizhou Province. With an altitude of 2572 meters, Fanjing Mountain has since ancient times been known as the "first mountain of Guizhou Province." Fanjing has played an important part in Chinese Buddhist history. It has been frequently visited by ancient emperors and Buddhist pilgrims since ancient times.The mountain boasts a unique natural habitat that is home to a number of rare plant and animal species as well.
Fanjing Mountain is also one of China's five holy places of Buddhism. In 1986, Fanjing Moutain was listed as a National Nature Reserve. In the same year, it was elected to the International Network of Biosphere Reserves, and is known as"the treasure of earth and humanity".
It is located in junctions of Jiangkou County, Yingjiang County, Songtao County, within Tongren Prefecture.
The Buddhist History of Fanjing Mountain
The name "Fanjing" means "Pure Buddhist Land". It is believed to have been bestowed upon the mountain in ancient times by Buddhist monks who came to the mountain to worship, though no date or even a firm period has been fixed for this. It is also said that it was at Fanjing Mountain where Buddha Sakyamuni performed the rites that would save the souls of the dead.
In its heyday, the mountain had 48 active temples, though only a few of these remain today. The two main temples are located atop separate crags on Xinjinding (New Golden Peak): Sakyamuni Temple and Mile Temple (Sakyamuni was the founder of Buddhism, while Mile was a lesser Buddhist deity).
It was during the Ming (1368-1644) Dynasty that the mountain came into prominence as a venue for Buddhist pilgrimages. It became a Buddhist retreat, and a monastery, Jinding Temple, was built on Jinding Peak (Golden Peak). It was in fact the Wanli Emperor of the Ming Dynasty who had commissioned the building of Jinding Temple. The emperor had a stele erected near Water Dripping Cave not far from the temple bearing the following text: "Ancient Buddhist sites are on Fanjing Mountain, the father of other famous mountains". Unfortunately, the monastery was the object of repeated pillages in the centuries that followed, even as late as in 1940.
The Ecological Significance of Fanjing Mountain
Fanjing Mountain has a well-preserved virgin forest, the largest of its kind in Guizhou Province. The area was designated a national nature reserve by the government of the PRC, and is now included in the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program.
Fanjing Mountain has many rock outcroppings, most of which have been greatly eroded over time, resulting in odd-shaped rocks, sheer cliffs, and narrow precipices. There are also stone pillars here and there, remnants of aeons of erosion. In the caves are stalactites and stalagmites. The mountain has eight major streams etched into its slopes, some of which streams produce raging rapids, and countless small brooks.
Due to its pristine state, the area around Fanjing Mountain is a prime habitat for a number of plant and animal species. Fanjing Mountain Nature Reserve is believed to contain the best preserved virgin forest of any area at this latitude on earth. It contains many flower types, and is otherwise extremely rich in plant resources, many of which are unique and grow only in this part of the world. There are altogether more than 800 plant species in the Reserve, among them 413 species of higher plants. Of the lower order plants, there are 151 species of tremellas alone (the tremella is a "jelly fungus", a type of fungus that grows on trees and is not generally regarded as edible… or perhaps the appropriate word is "palatable"). There are 15 species of plants in the Reserve under direct state protection, including the dove tree (its flowers are in the shape of a dove, hence the name) and the Chinese tulip tree.
Hu Guo Si
Originally, it was named Tianchi Temple, as one of the four Emperor Temples in Fanjing Mountain. Today, six wooden buildings still exist. Hu Guo Si is backed by Lion Rock and stands before Xiaojia River. It is also the transportation terminus of the highway from Yingjiang county to Fanjing Mountain. Hu Guo Si has beautiful natural scenery, embracing with clouds in the morning and bathing with rains in the evening. The air here is especially fresh.
Bo Dao Ling
Bo Dao Ling is a section of jagged mountain ridge rising up between Xiaojia River, which originates at the foot of Juchi Mountain, and Niuwei River, which originates at the Taizi Stone. Bo Dao Ling is more than 2,000 meters long, with its mountain ridge sweeping against the sky. When people walk on the Bo Dao Ling, they feel like they are walking on air. The two sides of Bo Dao Ling are clustered with old woods in some place, and bare cliffs even with no grasses growing it in other place. When overlooking the Xiaojia River and the Niuwei River, all you can see is billowing clouds and bottomless cliffs.
Jin Ding is 2,494 meter above sea level, which makes it the highest peak of the Wuling Mountian Range. When looking at Jin Ding from a great distance, it likes the rice steamer which peasants use for cooking. As a result, in the eastern part of Guizhou Province,"Fanjing Mountain" is also known as"Fanqian Mountain" according to the euphony of the word"Jing". Around Jin Ding, there are lots of strange and magnificent views, such as Rolls of Books, Mushroom Stone, Eagle Rock and others. Besides the fantastic views, many temples are located on Jin Ding.
Cheng’en Temple is commonly known as Shangcha Palace. On the left side of Jin Ding and in front of the main hall, the gate stands intact after many years. On the top, the five words"Chi Ci Cheng Si Shi" are engraved on the gate. On both sides of the Cheng’en Temple are eight room. However, only remnant walls can be seen now.
Zhenguo Temple is commonly known as XiaCha Palace, which is below Cheng’en Temple. It was originally built in the Ming Dynasty, but collapsed after the Liberation of China. Only remnant walls still exist throughout the site, although the main hall, side hall, monk accommodating rooms and kitchen are faintly discernible.
On the right hand of Zhenguo Temple lies the old Jin Ding. This famous"mushroom rock" is 9.4 meters in height. It is a special feature formed by weathering.
Tian Qiao is located in the New Jin Ding. It is a stone arch bridge over the top of Jindao Xia, soaring through the air for hundreds of meters. It is indeed a spectacular view. The Bridge is about 0.86 meters wide and 5.41 meters long, constructed with stone bricks. Along the chains at the cliff edge, you will pass by many scenic spots, such as Shaijin Stone, Shuofa Platform, Xianguo Platform, Liandang Platform, Zhangjing Stone, Baifo Platform, Shesheng Stone and more.
Seen from the west of Fanjing Mountain, there is a towering stone pillar, about 38 meters in height, known as"Prince Stone". On top of the stone pillar, there rises a large tree.
Depending on your location on the mountain, you can usually choose between the south line and the west line to travel around Fanjing Mountain.
1.South Line – You can climb Fanjing Mountain from Jiangkou. The route is steep and the road is difficult to walk. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to climb all 8,000 steps, and another 2 hours to go down the mountain.
2.West Line – You can climb Fanjing Mountain from Hu Guo Temple in Zhangjiaba through the Ying River. This route is much easier. After traveling around the mountain, you can go down the mountain along the 8,000 stone steps to Jiangkou. In this way, you can cover all the major scenic spots, and never repeat your steps. It saves more time and effort. However, the road from Tongren to the Ying River is much longer than the one from Tongren to Jiangkou, and the road is also not so good for traveling.
Travelers can reach Yuping, the easternmost part of Guizhou Province, by train directly. (Travelers within Guizhou Province can take the train departing from Guiyan to Yuping, and the journey takes somewhat more than 6 hours). After arriving in Yuping, you can take a minibus from Yuping station to Tongren. Near the Yuping Railway Station, there are lots of taxis heading for Tongren. The ticket fare is 25 yuan per person. After the taxi fills up with four people, it will depart for Tongren.
As another option, you can rent a car to go to Tongren, under the conditions that you work out with the driver. You can also negotiate with the driver to send you to Jiangkou county directly, usually at a fare of 35 to 40 yuan per person. Arriving in Tongren, you can take the minibus to Jiangkou or around Fanjing Mountain. The ticket fare is 10 yuan per person, and the journey takes one and a half hours. You can also rent a car to go there.
There are no buses returning to Jiangkou after 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon at the gate of Fanjing Mountain. As a result, it is advisable to reach the gate in advance when climbing down the mountain in case there are no buses. If there are no buses, you can rent a taxi to go back.
Going up the mountain from the Ying River:
1.Tongren to the Ying River – 30 yuan, 4 hours
2.Ying River to Fanjing Mountain Gate – Small vans are available to reach the mountain gate directly, and the ticket fare is 10 yuan. It takes about 90 minutes. The latest one is usually around 17:00 o'clock.
3.Fanjing Gate to summit – You can take a taxi or motor taxi from Fanjing Mountain Gate to the parking lot at the summit through Hu Guo Temple. It costs about 20 yuan, and bargaining is a must.
4.Accommodations – Every one thousand steps along the stairs, there is a private inn offering accommodation. It costs 15 to 20 yuan per person. However, it might be crowded on holidays and the inn might even be full. At the top of the mountain, you can stay at the Zhengguo Temple Guest House for the night. The Summit Guest House is located at step 6,600, which is far from the scenic spots, but you can watch the sunrise from the roof platform of the guest house. It costs 20 to 30 yuan.
Going up the mountain from Jiangkou:
1. Tongren - Jiangkou – 10 yuan, 1 hour
2.Jiangkou – Fanjing Mountain – 8 yuan, 40 minutes. This will take you to the gate of Fanjing Mountain. However, from gate of Fanjing Mountain Nature Reserve"Black Bay River" to the first stone step at the foot of the mountain"Fish Pass" is about 10 km. If you are empowered with good physical strength, you can walk the whole way. If not, it is advisable take a bus. Otherwise, you might end up exhausted by the time you climb Fanjing Mountain. Jeeps and minibuses are also available. The ticket fare is 10 yuan per person.